The University of Arizona’s statement: After further discussions, the university is pausing indefinitely on this project. We want the community to know that we heard their concerns surrounding this move and appreciate the thoughtful feedback we received. Over the next few months, the university will work with preservationists to make a recommendation on where the Soleri works are best positioned, including potentially staying in place.
This win for preservation is a direct result of your action and advocacy. This decision demonstrates that our voices have been heard, and we acknowledge the University for taking a moment to reconsider the future of this internationally recognized architectural masterpiece.
We want to fully express our gratitude to all those who joined us in raising awareness, sharing their concerns, and advocating for the protection of this cultural and historical treasure. Your collective efforts have played a crucial role in influencing this positive development.
As noted in the communication, over the next few months, the University will actively collaborate with stakeholders to determine the best course of action for the Chapel. We hope to participate in these conversations, view this as a positive step forward, and see it as an opportunity for constructive dialogue between the University and preservation advocates.
While we appreciate the UA change in position, it is essential to note that our concerns persist regarding the University’s interpretation of the State Historic Preservation Act and its overall commitment to the historic resources of our community. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and remain vigilant in advocating for the preservation of this and other state assets managed by the University of Arizona.
As we move forward, we will keep you informed of any further developments related to the Soleri Chapel. Your ongoing support is invaluable, and together, we can continue to safeguard the rich cultural heritage of our community.
Thank you for your commitment to preserving our historic treasures.
Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation
The Soleri Chapel: A Testament to Compassion and Contemplation
Internationally acclaimed architect Paolo Soleri, inspired by the personal loss of his wife to cancer in 1982, undertook the task of designing the Soleri Chapel as part of the University of Arizona Cancer Center project in the mid-1980s. Completed in 1986, the chapel stood as a contemplative and intimate space for cancer patients and their families to find solace.
Soleri’s innovative earth casting technique was employed to create the chapel’s barrel-vaulted ceiling, offering a unique texture reminiscent of the natural environment. The integral-colored botanical ceiling fresco enhances the connection with nature, while the elegant modernist altar, stained glass end panel, and signature cascade of hand-cast bronze bells contribute to the chapel’s timeless beauty.
Paolo Soleri: A Visionary Architect
Paolo Soleri, born in Turin, Italy, in 1919, was a mastermind in architectural innovation. Graduating from Politecnico di Torino in 1946, Soleri later moved to Arizona to collaborate with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. His influential work, including the Ceramica Artistica Solimene and the experimental planned community Arcosanti, reflects his commitment to the concept of “arcology” – a harmonious blend of architecture and ecology.